Collaboratory Results Get A Thumbs Up!

As a Career and Life Coach with ICT, I just had to spread the good news!  I hope you’ll share this with fellow job seekers along with my previous blog on the Collaboratory.  The value of this organization and its’ work has far reaching effects- join us and watch your job search bloom! 


Ofer Sharone, PhD, and a founder of ICT,  The Institute for Career Transitions, recently finished analyzing the qualitative data of pre and post interviews with the first cohort participants of the collaboratory and two findings literally jumped of the pages. 

1) Greater openness to alternative sources of income =  as a result of their experience with the pilot participants became more open to more types of jobs.  In most cases this meant that people started with a focus on standard full-time “W2” employment and by the end of the pilot were actively considering other approaches to generating income.  The main factor driving this change is a growing recognition of the fact that “W2” jobs may not be as available as people had hoped prior to the pilot, and moreover, even if they are able to get a W2 job that such job may in fact be a risky move given the constancy of layoffs and churn in corporate America and the particular vulnerability of older workers to layoffs.  Another key reason for broadening beyond W2 jobs was a growing recognition of the barrier of age discrimination.   He attributes all this to the collaboratory’s approach (which I also think is a core ICT principle) of not sugar coating the reality of the barriers that older long-term unemployed professionals are facing. Another factor was having a cohort of others, plus the facilitators, to brainstorm with and bounce ideas with!

2) Improved emotional wellbeing = given that the greater openness to alternatives discussed above stems from a growing awareness of obstacles to getting what are traditionally considered “good jobs,” we might expect to see a decline in emotional wellbeing (I.e., people upset because job market is tougher and less fair to older workers than they might have previously thoughts) BUT there is a very strong pattern of participants describing improved emotional wellbeing.  The key reason for this improved wellbeing is the community of other participants and the facilitators.  The community that formed at the pilot seemed to go beyond filling the gap of what may be a loss of work colleagues and provided a sense of being “cared about.”  In the “pre” interviews job seekers talked about difficulties in their marriages and friendships, and he believes that the improved wellbeing arose to an important extent due to the participant community filling this hugely important need.   This improved well-being in turn made it possible for the participants to more actively pursue their career goals.

Here are a few illustrative quotes from participants:

–Meeting all the people was incredible. It was a unique group of people to come together and bond the way we did.

–Compared to three months ago, I’m in a very different place. Before the Collaboratory, I had become extremely depressed and withdrawn. I had developed so much anxiety that I stopped looking for work. Every little task just seemed to be too overwhelming for me. The Collaboratory has helped make a massive difference in my sense of well being right now. So I’m very, very grateful. The support from everybody, the structure of how it worked, and having a place to report to three times a week and being held accountable for it. And the seriousness I got about having to participate, that really helped to sort of put me back into shape. At first, I was sort of offended by it a little bit. But in the end, it was exactly what I needed to whack me back into shape! (laughing) Let go as much of this emotional baggage that’s been created in the last year or so. I’m very grateful to the Collaboratory.

–I appreciated how the conversations started to get meaty and idea generating. …I did believe that some of the strategic advice was very collaborative and that I got just as much from each of the participants as I did from Tom, Deborah and Scott. It was facilitators, but I think the benefit is that we had nine other people to bounce things off of.

–In any event, what I loved particularly about Collaboratory, they basically gave me a safe spot, a safe place to experiment with my own thoughts and my own ideas. It gave me permission to take the risks I had, either from my career experiences or old belief systems that weren’t working for me any more and getting in my way, gave me permission to suspend those and to really figure out what was important and what was necessary and what I could actually do.

–I was real focused almost exclusively on landing the next W2 job, and some of the things out of the pilot, …has actually led to a potential career transition for me. Instead of doing it a few years down the road, I’m looking at in parallel now continuing to find a full-time job if that comes first….. I think that was as a result of talking about the sandboxes or just constantly being pushed to take action and change. That changed my mindset in that you don’t have to have everything be perfect or done or right. Just do something about it every day to keep the ball moving forward.

–My attitude about this thing called a career has shifted hugely. It’s not about a title and/or a set parameter for the job or the work. It’s not about security or benefits. It’s really just about how I can apply my skills and talents and so something that feeds me professionally.  . . My ability to talk about what it is that I do and want to do and where I could do it is getting more clear as well.  Just being open and flexible and agile really is what the Collaboratory has provided to me.

–We’re still keeping the group together even though the program has been completed. Going twice a week. I know that’s a big part of why I show up, right? It’s still the group, everyone understand what you’re going through. You’ve got something scheduled in your day. It’s interaction with people that you know care about you and want to see each other succeed.

I think you can see this is really worthwhile!  For further information on ICT and the Collaboratory, contact Deborah or Ofer:

Deborah Burkholder, ICT Executive Director,

Ofer Sharone, PhD, Asst. Professor Sociology, University of Massachusetts Amherst,